Sacramento Councilman Allen Warren said Tuesday he will appeal a $1,002 fine by the state’s political watchdog agency for reporting violations during his City Council race in 2012, a day after he said he agreed to pay the proposed penalty.
Warren omitted the employer names and occupations for dozens of small donors, most giving $250 or less, during his first council bid. Campaigns are required to report the employment and contribution information for any donation greater than $100 within 60 days of receiving the money. Without that information, they must return the money.
The FPPC proposed the fine based on missing information in four campaign filings from five years ago for amounts totaling $20,300. Warren amended the filings in 2015 to include the missing information after being contacted by the FPPC, he said.
On Tuesday, Warren said that despite initially agreeing to the fine, he now intends to fight it. He said he’s not contesting the omissions, but wants more information on the investigation and why the fine was imposed five years after the original filing and two years after the amended documents were filed.
“I will happily play by the rules,” he said. “But I don’t want to be treated unfairly in the process so I think they owe it to us to provide us with the information they used to determine this fine.”
Warren said he believes the California Fair Political Practices Commission may have imposed a stiffer penalty on him compared to others charged with the same violation. This was the first time Warren was cited by the agency.
FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga said it was difficult for the agency to say how many similar fines or warnings the agency had imposed for failure to include employer or occupation information because the agency did not track that information. Wierenga confirmed that Warren’s case was handled under a “streamlined” process reserved for minor offenses.
He said that penalty decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and include factors such as prior offenses and community harm.
The commission is scheduled to vote March 16 on Warren’s proposed fine.
It was less clear what prompted the investigation. Wierenga initially said Monday the fine came out of an ongoing investigation prompted by a media report on Warren last year.
He later said the FPPC did have an investigation based on that media report, but the fines against Warren were unrelated and stemmed from an investigation into an unnamed third party. On Tuesday, Wierenga said “it is not clear” why Warren was investigated and it may have been “part of normal, proactive efforts” by the agency to randomly review campaign records.